Thursday, September 30, 2010

5 C's and the freshman / sophomore car ban...

First off, I never knew the Claremont Colleges were popularly known as the 5 C's, and what exactly does that mean for the Claremont Graduate Institute which is the 6th part of the Consortium after all. But that is another problem to be solved by someone else.

The Claremont City Council this past week voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance which creates incentives for the Colleges to maintain and initiate additional campus parking restrictions for freshmen and sophomore students. The previous regulations required the Colleges to provide one parking space for every two students. These restrictions would be reduced even further for those colleges which enact freshmen and sophomore bans. Not only will this help reduce the number of cars travelling campus and city streets, but it also places less pressure on the Colleges to build more parking for a growing student population. With land at a premium in Claremont this is an important consideration. For example, the Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station along Foothill Blvd is comprised of 75 acres owned by the Claremont University Consortium, and another 11 acres owned by Harvey Mudd College. The Station has been cited for years as a potential location for a parking lot for Harvey Mudd. Relieve the pressure on the Colleges to provide parking and you relieve the threat to this valuable open space research area.

Administrators from both Claremont McKenna College (CMC) and Harvey Mudd College expressed support for the ordinance; CMC Vice President for Business and Administration, Robin Aspinall commented that even at the rate 1 spot for every 2 students as per the previous parking regulations, meant there were still 16% more spaces than actually needed by the College. In proposing the ordinance (which will become a part of the city's municipal code with final approval), the city sought to augment its sustainability goals and encourage students to use alternatives to motor vehicles. Bob Smith, Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services said that the ordinance "recognizes Pomona College's efforts... to reduce the number of cars and their impact on the surrounding community."

For the record, to date four of the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges - Pomona, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Harvey Mudd have freshman parking bans; only Scripps does not. The Claremont Graduate Institute is unaffected by the ordinance. As of this time none of the five plan to institute sophomore bans.

Many of the comments of students I have read express valid concerns, though none that are impossible to work around. Things like work outside the local area, or other reasons for travel within and beyond the greater Los Angeles area; but then there are those which are more concerned with the lack of nearby fast food establishments for a student's greasy food fix, or how anyone could ever undertake the oh-so looooong journey between the Colleges and the Claremont Village.

The Claremont Colleges are not the only Institutes of higher learning with freshman car bans - some of the larger one include MIT, Stanford, Syracuse, the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina Ashville and Miami. In addition, other campuses have enacted "extended car bans" - some of these include sophomore bans, and proximity bans, and include four UC campuses (Berkeley, Davis, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz). A complete list of these campuses can be found here.

Would more sweeping restrictions be a boon or a bust for the Colleges? They regularly receive highly favorable rankings for education and student life, and the existing freshman restrictions do not seem to have had a negative impact on admissions, so considering the broad picture, this seems unlikely. Fewer cars, and less land taken up by wasteful parking. Seems like a beneficial plan all around.

Vintage teaser...

These two were pointed out to me when I stopped by the Velo this evening. It was getting too dark for my little camera so I could only snap off these two pics. I will take my better camera for better pics in the next couple days.
50th Anniversary Paramount with an early Chris King headset

Motobecane with an interesting brown and gold color scheme.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the Collector...

I spotted this cyclist a week ago while heading through Azusa, but is wasn't the big bags of recyclables that caught my eye. Rather it was the accessorized wheels that were the attention-grabbers - he has all sorts of stuff wedged into those spokes. While moving, those wheels were just a colorful blur, and it wasn't until he stopped that the toy saw, stuffed animals, and other nic-nacs became discernible. When I was a kid, I would put tennis balls in the spokes, but I would be a little nervous to ride with all that stuff wedged in. Anyway, cheers to him for personalizing his ride, his way.


In various past posts I have touched upon some of the existing cycling infrastructure as well as some deficiencies; I have touched on some of the attractions here in Claremont, and in the process have mentioned some of the local businesses. For a moment, though, I am going to put on my imaginary Chamber of Commerce cap and become a city booster in order to present something of a comprehensive view of the non-cycling amenities which cyclists might find attractive and draw them to the city from points beyond.

The central area of Claremont is known as the Village, and it consists of a business and administrative district, with surrounding residential areas, and portions of the Claremont Colleges. This is also where the historic depot is located, with it's Metrolink and Foothill Transit connections, the new Bikestation, and new bike racks. Across the street from the depot is the city's one full-service bike shop, Jax (formerly Buds); the times I have stopped in there the employees have always been friendly and helpful. Most of the businesses within the Village core are located along one of two streets, Harvard and Yale, or the Main throughway, Indian Hill Blvd. In the Village, you can get your coffee fix at independents such as the Last Drop Cafe, or Some Crust Bakery, or at 42nd Street Bagel, Starbucks, or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. These are also good places of a quick sweet treat or lunchtime sandwich. Two of my favorite breakfast places are the Grill for omelets, or 42nd Street for a "bagel con-egg-tion".
At lunch time check out Podge's for great sandwiches and smoothies, or Jamba Juice. For a more substantial meal check into Pizza n' Such, the Grill, Espiau's, or Hero's. They are all good and offer a variety of choices. For Italian, there is Aruffo's, Tutti Mangia, La Parolaccia osteria Italiana, or a very small place I recently had the pleasure of patronizing for the first time, La Piccoletta, where the menu changes weekly; try something different at these places, you won't regret it. For something totally different (at least for me) try Viva Madrid, a Spanish tapas bar and restaurant, Walter's for traditional Afghan, Yiannis for Greek, Harvard Square Cafe for continental, Saca's Mediterranean Cuisine, and the new, and quite popular, Cheese Cave. To combine food with music check into the Press, or in the Village West expansion area, the Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue.
The Packing House, Village West

The Village West area has a number of newer restaurants including the Casa Moreno, Bua Thai Cuisine, and the Back Abbey (think Belgian beer and frittes, among other fare). The Village West area is also home to the Laemmle theatre, Casa 425 hotel, which by the way maintains a small fleet of bikes for rent to the hotel's patrons, and the new Flapper's comedy club, as well as numerous specialty shops and galleries. The Village also contains many places to pick up quicker bites when time is at a premium. Of course no trip into the Village is complete without a stop at the Folk Music store, Rhino Records, Video Paradiso, and Bert and Rocky's Ice Cream.

Don't hesitate to look beyond the Village as well. At the intersection of Foothill and Indian Hill Blvds is the Old School House with Casa de Salsa Mexican cuisine, Trader Joe's, the Burger Bar, and Roebek's Juice. Within shouting distance of this intersection is the Velo, of which I have posted on numerous occasions. Lest I should be negligent, Coates Cyclery is another 1.5 miles to the west, though just across the border in the neighboring burg of Pomona. Up at Baseline and Mills is the Euro Cafe, my walk-to favorite, a little  Portuguese place where the owner takes the time to greet everyone.

Various events take place in the Village area throughout the year including the weekly farmer's market on Sunday's, Friday Nights Live, with two stages of music each Friday evening, Family Fun Festival, each Wednesday, the Depot Jazz series in late summer / early autumn. Special yearly events include the Village Venture craft faire, Wine Walk, the Folk Music Festival, and the upcoming California Beer Festival
Depot Jazz series

I am sure I have forgotten something, and certainly this is not a complete list; there are many specialty shops, art galleries and installations which may be of interest. And then there are the things you might not normally think of, like the trees, Claremont is famous for it's trees (just watch out around the Eucalyptus, they have been dropping some massive branches lately), or the parks, or the fountains and historic buildings at the Colleges. Thing is, if you are passing through by bike, you can try a new place each visit, though that would require many visits. With so much within such a small area, it is no wonder so many cyclists can be seen here on the weekends, and so many rides begin and end in the Village, or nearby outlying areas of the city.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ride History III: La Tuna Ride...

Griffith Park has served as a staging area for many local weekend rides over the years, one such being the Sunday morning La Tuna Canyon ride of the mid-1990s.

The route: This ride began at the parking lot near the pony rides near the parks' Los Feliz entrance, although I seem to remember it shifting at some point over to the Zoo lot. The group started out at an easy pace through the park, headed north on Victory Blvd through Burbank before cutting over to Glenoaks, and then briefly onto Sunland before swinging right onto La Tuna Canyon Road. This is where things would normally begin to heat up. Depending on who was out, and whether or not anyone wanted to kick things off, the pace could pick-up and the group become strung out on the flat lower section, or not until the grade steepened up. Certainly by the time the top, and first sprint point, came in sight the only people left up front were normally the climbers. There was a general regroup at the top before heading down the other side, along Honolulu Avenue through La Crescenta and Montrose, to Verdugo Blvd and the second sprint point at the so-called Hospital Hill. There was another regroup here before the peloton raced down Descanso, Chevy Chase and Berkshire, just skirting the hills of La Canada-Flintridge. There was a third sprint near the end of Berkshire, before the group swung onto Highland and Linda Vista, running down the Arroyo Seco up above the Rose Bowl. From there we would take a number of streets back through Eagle Rock and Glendale, moving as fast or slow as traffic and lights would allow, eventually ending up back on Los Feliz and into the park. Sometimes there would be a final sprint here, though it was usually lightly contested.
The La Tuna ride was one of those strictly seasonal rides, starting in on the first weekend of November and ending when the first races kicked off in early February. Since it was a winter ride, it tended to be more relaxed and social, riders generally doing it to maintain their fitness during the cold months. Of course, as anyone who has been involved in the racing scene knows, this does not mean the the ride was not competitive. Anytime you get a group of racers together people are going to be hunting for bragging rights. For this ride, most of those rights were to be found at the top of La Tuna Canyon, or at the Berkshire sprint. Though I did the ride for four years from 1994 through 1997, most of my palmares came on the much less prestigious Hospital Hill.
Many of the local teams would be well represented on this ride, including Team Ape, Team Xtreme, Squadra Folgore, Aztecas, and PAA, and on nice winter days the groupo could easily top 50 riders. Frequently groups would branch off the loop bound for Big Tujunga Canyon and Angeles Crest, or do the loop first, and then tack on more mileage at the end, but the Tuna ride itself came in just under 36 miles. Not a whole lot of big names on this ride, but a few; Olin Bakke, for instance graced it with his presence, and others who made respectable names for themselves, including John Slover, Mitch Boggs, Darren Rogers, Dave Ward, and many whom I knew by first name only (Anthony, who seemed to always be the first to summit La Tuna), or like myself, were mostly fodder in the field, while striving for a top ten.
Though I moved from the immediate area, and therefore stopped doing this ride, I understand that rides have continued to follow this route after leaving Griffith Park on Sunday mornings. The Love Ride, leaving the Park at 8:45 follows the same route until Montrose, where they apparently stop for coffee, and then head back from there, rather than going on along Berkshire and Linda Vista above the Rose Bowl.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Slow Sunday scenes from Seal Beach...

While this Claremont cyclist does not mind getting out for a ride in the heat, he does sometimes like to escape to cooler climes when the thermometer tops 100. So, today's slow scenes hit the road for a shorter ride down the SGRT to Seal Beach. He quickly realised that the word of the day was going to be color, as it was simply vibrant out at the coast.
It was hot along the inland section of SGRT

The wind blowing through her hair

Coastal color

Arrival, end of path

Seaside contemplation

Lunch spot

Bike parking at the pier

Cruisin' side by side

Shaved ice on a hot day

Beach stylin'

By bike or horseless carriage

Let the parade of color begin

Red Hawaiian jersey guy

Push-a-bike (and trailer)

Beach scene color

Beach scene color with sailboats

Army green is a color too

The place for your afternoon cofee needs

Pause for thought

Just your typical day at the beach

Pause for lunch.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Third time is the charm...

Looks like work is rolling in again next week, so it was now or never today in my effort to bring the ride to Crystal Lake to a conclusion. Unfortunately I am going to have to hook you with this (again, I know) because glutton for punishment that I am, la familia and I are now off to the County Fair. I hope they sell new legs there, because I think I am going to need them. And now, in conclusion: Needless to say, though the urban area down below was sweltering under triple digit temperatures, it was not much cooler up high, the thermometer on my computer was telling me it was in the high 90s. It honestly did not feel like it; mind over matter,  I guess. I have noticed a lot of talk on local forums, lately, about the Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) climb. For my money it just can not compare to Highway 39. You do have to put up with a little traffic in the opening miles, but once you get past West Fork, the traffic becomes a trickle, and then past Valley of the Moon, it becomes non-existent. As we all know there is something especially appealing about riding along a car-free road in absolute solitude. People who do not think they could do this whole route from Duarte up, should keep in mind that there are any number of places further up that you can start from - West Fork, has a large parking area, as does Valley of the Moon (the furthest up you can drive). Just don't forget your Forest Adventure Pass. For the entire out and back ride, I ended up with 52 miles, over 5800 feet of elevation gain, and I rode it in just over four hours.

About the point I left off last time
2000 comes easy enough
That's right, up there
Once past West Fork, the road looks like this, and autos are a rarity
Still climbing. All that greenery in the canyon bottom marks the course of the North Fork, San Gabriel River. If you click on the photo look for a shallow "V" in the distant mountain ridge with a dark patch of trees below it, I believe that is where the bowl holding Crystal Lake lies
Same again, just slightly further along the road
Requisite handlebar shot
There is this wide sweeping turn here skirting what is called Valley of the Moon Plantation. While riding along here once, long ago, there was a group singing hymns from somewhere in the forested area just visible to the right. Never saw anyone, so it was kind of surreal. Just at the end of the sweeping curve in the distance is a locked gate, beyond which lies a car-free paradise
Look at that, the West Fork Road is a National Scenic Bikeway. Unfortunately the Bear Creek Trail goes through the Wilderness area so you can't get to it by bike from this point (Valley of the Moon Plantation)
Another one of those signs, meaning more climbing ahead. Just around the bend is Coldbrook Campground which, since it is on the uphill side of the locked gate, is unused right now. Kind of spooky, really
A 12% switchback, about as steep as it gets
Getting higher and more scenic. And there is that dark patch of trees beneath the peak in the distance
The high country
How many layers of roadway can you count. Looking down on Coldbrook campground
A little further along you reach this area called Falling Springs where the roadside gets very lush and green. There are numerous cabins hidden away up here, and streams with little waterfalls tumble down the mountainsides
Another little waterfall. Notice the ruined chimney in the background and the burnt trees; forest fires plays havoc with the scattered homesteads up here. There are a few more switchbacks from this point before reaching the turn off to Crystal Lake. Unfortunately this is where my camera batteries ran out of juice
Just so there is not doubt, there be bikes on the road here.

Bike Train, Sag Harbor, NY...

Safe Routes to School in action, this time in Sag Harbor, New York. Thanks to Biking in LA for finding this story.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Steep streets, USA...

Here is an interesting little find. When I think of hilly cities with steep streets I tend to think Frisco and other Bay area burgs, but according to the graphic four of the ten steepest streets in the country are right here in our own City of Angels. I used to work at the top of a very steep street, actually driveway, in Highland Park, and I have heard of Fargo, but I never knew how Los Angeles streets stacked up nationwide.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Protest World Car-free Day, huh?

I have considered myself to be pretty much left of center for as long as I can realistically remember, and quite frankly find myself moving further that direction as each year passes. High on the list of reasons why (but trust me there are many others) is the far-right obsession with automobility. Just check this out to see what I mean. Come on, how can any right-thinking (pun intended) individual possibly protest against World Car-free Day. As an example the author bemoans the ever-expanding taxpayer subsidies for mass transit systems, failing to note how this would benefit a greater number of people for less expense than the ever-expanding taxpayer subsidies for maintenance and expansion of the current highway system. And check out the last points; apparently the author has never seen a utility bike, and fails to comprehend their versatility. Apparently you can send an email to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but I don't see any option to leave a comment. Probably a good idea. Something about the blind leading the blind, stuck at the back of my mind, and I have to go shake it loose.

Funny, I just saw this poster on another blog (Munchenierung). Maybe this is what the CEI is afraid of.

September Ghost Bikes...

Joshua Boulanger, 24 September 2910, Lucerne Valley, CA
Peter Anthony Zupan, 22 September 2010, Wildomar
Eldon Johansen, 22 September 2010, Redondo Beach, CA
Susan Eiko Akana, 19 September 2010, Carlsbad, CA
David Bruce Menea, 11 September 2010, Ramona, CA (*)
Lauretto Jean Romo, 10 September 2010, San Bernardino, CA (*)

Bikes in literature...

"It was a noise you never caught in the city, the whir of bike chains in action together. It was one of the great sounds of the war."

A couple great sentences from "A Star Called Henry". Evocative and thought provoking. On the one hand you have the stillness of the rural landscape through which the group rides - there is no rumble of automobiles, no hum of factories at work, no hustle of an urban population always on the move, nothing to disturb the unison of multiple bikes working together. And this is a key, these are not individuals each going their separate way. This is a group acting in concert, and with a purpose, to which the bike is a most appropriate tool. The imagery of the second sentence, though is even more interesting and compelling. Of all the sounds one imagines, or remembers, about war - explosions, rifle fire, shouted commands, screams, the roar of engines - how would one even consider the simple whir of bike chains as being in the same category? Yet the bike's simplicity and nimbleness makes it the perfect means of mobility against a much more powerful and heavily equiped foe, a foe that could not be matched armor against armor, engine against engine. But a bike can be concealed, is virtually silent, and is a common, everyday tool of the working man. Thus is its power, and thus the whir of bike chains become one of the great sounds of war.

A Star Called Henry is written by Roddy Doyle, and published by Penguin Books, 1999

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

International Bike and Walk to School Day 2010...

Whaaaaaaaat? 249 'events' taking place throughout California, but no school in Claremont has signed up yet. It is not too late; though October 6 is just around the corner. Find out more here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...